Call for Papers: Conceptualizations and Traditions of Social Justice in Canada

Conceptualizations and Traditions of Social Justice in Canada

Call for Papers for a Special Issue of Socialist Studies / Études socialistes

Guest editors: Jérôme Melançon (La Cité universitaire francophone, University of Regina), Janet Wesselius (University of Alberta Augustana Campus), and Philip Merklinger (University of Alberta Augustana Campus).

Presentation of the Theme of the Special Issue

Canada has a long history of progressive social and political traditions of thinking, which have contributed to the development of the conceptualization of social justice and of its praxis.  Conceptualizations, traditions and practices of social justice are present in many Canadian philosophical, religious, labour, social, and political movements, historical events, concrete social developments, as well as government legislation.

The presence of such traditions is not to be equated with the justice of the political system itself, nor does it entail that these traditions have been unambiguously progressive. Discussions of and demands for social justice have included a confrontation with discriminatory and violent structures, such as sexism, racism, colonialism, heteronormativity, and ableism, within social justice movements and traditions of thinking themselves as well as within mainstream political institutions. Through internal and external criticism, social justice movements continue to highlight the ways in which Canadians are excluded from full participation in Canadian society – or excluded entirely as non-citizens or un-Canadian.

At a moment when so many efforts are aimed at celebrating or commemorating the 150th anniversary of the British North America Act, we invite university-based and social movement-based theorists alike to reflect on the history and present state of conceptualizations and practices of social justice as they take place in Canada, regardless of their allegiance to Canada or of their (self-)definition as Canadian. These reflections can be turned toward:

  1. the thought and work of a wide range of philosophers, social reformers and theorists, as found in all areas of Canadian public life – in the universities, churches, social groups, social movements and diverse communities – which discuss ways in which to remedy situations of injustice so that all members of the communities and nations in Canada can dwell, work and prosper together;
  2. past and present technologies of oppression, domination, exploitation, exclusion, and repression, which confine, subordinate and limit the exercise of social justice in Canada; and
  3. the ideological justification of structural inequality, its origins in colonial, capitalist, patriarchal, and other structural relations by those who own and control the means of the production of meaning in Canada – and the critiques and alternatives to these justifications.

Indeed, the goal of this special issue is to further critical and reflective research and scholarship into the role social justice has played in the history and traditions of thought and social action in Canada.

Topics may include conceptions of social justice present in:

  • social, political, and ethical values and principles;
  • structures of social and political injustice;
  • forms of ideologies (e.g. co-operation, social-democracy, socialism, anarchism) present in Canada;
  • Indigenous resistance and resurgence;
  • nationalism, legislation, and state-building in Québec;
  • minority rights and actions;
  • sovereignty and federalism in view of justice among peoples;
  • labour and student movements;
  • movements, parties, and organizations aimed  at social justice;
  • meaningful historical events and locations;
  • individual figures, from philosophers and leaders to emblematic persons such as Omar Khadr;
  • municipal, provincial, and federal policy and programs, or self-organization;
  • other topics related to the manner in which social justice is conceived and theorized in Canada.


Authors are encouraged but not required to send expressions of interest with abstracts by May 3, 2017 to Jérôme Melançon (; inquiries are also welcome at the same address.

Completed papers must be submitted by July 3, 2017 through the SS/ÉS Online Submission system: For inclusion in this special issue, please add the abbreviation “CTSJ” in your article title when submitting your paper, as well as a mention in the text of the paper. Papers may be submitted in French or in English. Please follow all of the journal’s guidelines prior to submission.